Ashok Gehlot, Sachin Pilot and Vasundhara Raje. (Source: BloombergQuint)

Rajasthan Elections: Can Vasundhara Raje Overcome Anti-Incumbency?

No government has been voted back to power in Rajasthan over the last two-and-half decades and that will be the biggest challenge for Bharatiya Janata Party’s Vasundhara Raje when the desert state goes to polls in Dec. 7.

The BJP swept to power in 2013, winning 163 out of the 200 seats in the state assembly with a 45 percent vote share and sending out the Ashok Gehlot-led dispensation. The performance was attributed to anti-incumbency and the “Modi wave” that brought the BJP back to power in the 2014 general elections.

Rajasthan Elections: Can Vasundhara Raje Overcome Anti-Incumbency?

The Congress’ tally fell to 21 seats from the 96 that it won in 2008, its vote share down by nearly 4 percent while that of the BJP rose by 11 percent—in line with historical voting trends. The party hasn’t announced a candidate for the CM’s post, possibly to avert voter base dilution.

Rajasthan Elections: Can Vasundhara Raje Overcome Anti-Incumbency?

Elections will be held on Dec. 7 in a single phase and results will be announced along with four other states—Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram—on Dec. 11.

Leading Candidates

Vasundhara Raje Scindia

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje—who is contesting from Jhalrapatan constituency—is spearheading the BJP’s campaign. While her government’s schemes such as Bhamashah Yojana (a subsidy scheme for women) and Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan (water conservation scheme), and summits such as Resurgent Rajasthan and Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet have found support, the state lags on various social indicators. The two-term chief minister also came under criticism for attempting to gag the media from reporting on judges and government servants by passing The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017. Yet, Raje is expected to give a tough fight to the Congress.

Ashok Gehlot

The Congress heavyweight, who is also a two-term CM, has his support base intact and will contest from Sardarpura. His experience in regional and national politics and his connect with party workers are his strengths, even as he may have to fend off party colleague Sachin Pilot for the top job.

Sachin Pilot

The son of yesteryear Congress politician Rajesh Pilot, Sachin Pilot is considered another contender for the chief minister’s post. Sachin, 41, is younger than most politicians in the state and is expected to appeal to the youngsters. He will contest from Tonk constituency.

Watch video to get Rajan Mahan, professor at University of Rajasthan analysis on the upcoming state’s election.

Key Issues

  • Rising unemployment in Rajasthan, especially among the youth, is a key concern. The state has an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent, above the national average.
  • The agrarian crisis in Rajasthan—as in many other states—is a major issue, with farmers demanding implementation of the recommendations made in the Swaminathan Committee Report.
  • Caste-based reservation is another teething problem, with the Gujjar community persisting with its demand for a 5 percent quota within the OBC reservation framework.
Rajasthan Elections: Can Vasundhara Raje Overcome Anti-Incumbency?